"Jazz flute is for little fairy boys"
Some quick thoughts about last night’s game:
Things I Didn’t Like:
–Rebounding. Again, I thought we gave up too many offensive rebounds. The Jazz are a good offensive rebounding team, and to our credit, we did lock them out of too many put backs in crunch time. But this is something to keep an eye on.
–Fouling. Too much of it. Especially in the third quarter, as a steady march to the foul line kept them in the game.
–Officiating. I’m not one to usually gripe about officiating, but man was it awful last night. Both ways. Touch fouls getting called, hard fouls being missed. As a Spurs fan, whenever I see Joey Crawford working a game, I always brace for the worst.
–The last 30 seconds of the game. Which, more or less, took about 2 hours to finish. Ugh. This is what basketball detractors point to when they talk about how unwatchable the game is. I understand the strategy (though to call that foul on Marcus Williams was a bit much), and I can’t fault the Jazz for trying to steal a win. But nobody wants to watch that.
What I Liked:
–The rotation. With 3 games left, it looks like we almost have one. One thing in particular stood out for me, and it seemed to happen almost by accident. Parker picked up his second foul pretty early, forcing him to the bench and Mason, Jr. to the point earlier than normal. But because of this, Duncan was still on the floor. Because of this, the offense was still really smooth and efficient. I believe we scored or had scoring opportunities on 4 of 6 possessions before Duncan went to the bench. One of the remedies for the second unit may be to have Duncan play with them as much as possible. Basically, we can go very short stints with both Duncan and Parker on the bench. However…
–Drew Gooden. We can still run an offense through the post with Duncan on the bench. Gooden has a good post game. Not an adequate one, a good one. As Sean Elliott was saying, he has ‘junk’ in his game. He can hit the mid-range jumper. And he’s a big body for setting great screens. Most teams won’t double him in the post; which is fine, because I think that gives us an advantage every time.
–Ime Udoka. I was in Portland for Udoka’s breakout season. During that offseason, I was hoping that the Spurs would pick him up. During his first two years, he’s been very inconsistent and, honestly, disappointing. But I still believe he can be good for us. He’s not a Bruce Bowen type defensive stopper. But he plays really good defense. What he does do, that no one else on the team really does (save Manu Ginobili) is create havoc, create turnovers. He gets steals. He deflects passes. He gets his nose in places it doesn’t belong. And he rebounds like a beast. And his offensive game is not bad. He can’t hit the corner three like Bruce, but he does have a more varied attack, and I don’t cringe when he dribbles. I think it’s important to note that the 5 players that closed the game were Duncan, Parker, Mason, Jr., Gooden, and Udoka. Pop is showing a lot of faith in a newcomer and a player that was left for dead a few months ago.
–The Big 2. Duncan had a good game. He looked spry, and he was effective in the post. When his knees ache, it’s very evident in his post game because he pretty much doesn’t do anything. Last night he was doing it all. But Parker was dominant. He could score at will, he was finding all the open shooters, and he completely controlled the game in the last 4 minutes, a role usually reserved for Manu. Last night’s game had the slight whiff of a playoff game; and if we can get that Tim and that Tony, I think we’ll be ok, at least for a round or two.
We have Sacramento on Sunday, followed by Golden State on Monday. Those are both very winnable games, but also both trap games. It would not surprise me if we split those games.
Does Duncan play both? Or does he sit one out? And if so, which one? There are reports that Duncan’s knees are getting much better, and that he’s feeling ready to go. Duncan has always come up big in the playoffs, even with lingering injuries. I’m thinking we’ll see that Duncan again real soon.
As always, keep an eye on the rotation, and if Udoka and Gooden continue to earn playing time and closing game minutes. Keep an eye on Portland and Houston, who both won games last night and who we need to lose some games so we can pass them in the standings. Keep an eye on how we come out to start these games. End of season games against non-playoff opponents can be dangerous, and we need to not play down to their level. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t win all three of our remaining games, but I’m worried we may look past Sac and GS to our home finale against the Hornets on Wednesday.
The playoffs start 1 week from today. This is the best time of year.
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